The album cover for Plastic Cherries on the Moon.

Local Review: The Plastic Cherries – The Plastic Cherries On The Moon

Local Music Reviews

The Plastic Cherries
The Plastic Cherries On The Moon

Roxanne Records
Street: 02.23
The Plastic Cherries = David Bowie + St. Vincent

Glam rock is over half a century old at this point, so you might believe this well-trod genre no longer has enough vitality to bring forth truly interesting music. The Plastic Cherries are here to prove that nothing could be further from the truth. With their glitzy space opera of a second album, The Plastic Cherries On The Moon, they set you spinning in Major Tom’s tin can and show you a phenomenal time while doing it.

This record is something more than just another “Moonage Daydream,” though. It’s also a concept album with a lot to say about modern life. Amid soaring guitars, beefy drum beats and ethereal synths, it tells the story of disaffected lovers in a world where space travel is the dalliance of billionaire playboys and average people have to work soulless, dead-end jobs.

Vocalist Shelby Maddock puts it best on “Moon II” when she sings (with layers of chasmic reverb), “Boss makes a rocket, I make a dime. Better believe it I’ll meet you under… Under a brand new sky. Why must it take such a long, long time… ’til 1969?” From this starting point of ineffectual longing, the album follows a steady trajectory toward new hope, but maybe not along the route you’d expect.

On the chugging third track, “Liftoff!” the band launches into outer space and brings us along for the ride. Shortly after this, the album’s most Bowie-esque song, “On The Moon,” describes a Saturday night gathering of good friends on the lunar surface where everyone dances until their troubles disappear. We’ve gotten away from Earth and its work culture that eats people alive. Now, it’s time to party.

Until the record takes a surprising turn, that is. Track six, titled “KOTM 108.1” is a mock radio broadcast from the moon to Earth during which the DJ, “Joe Sunshine” (guitarist Joe Maddock’s stage name), encourages people back home to firmly hold those they love. This is a curiously homesick look back at a world we spent several songs escaping and it feels as if the band is hinting that nowhere can be paradise unless we’re all there together.

Then, in the album’s ninth and penultimate song, “A Rose,” Shelby Maddock sings, “Hold me tight far beneath the rising moon.” We’re back on Earth without any ado, as if we’ve awoken from a dream of a better world. There’s a real, heartfelt yearning for something unattainable here, but there’s something else, too: a loving embrace with another person.

A less ambitious band may have been content to write a fun yet simple sci-fi epic about escaping to the stars, but the Plastic Cherries here problematize the idea of such a fanciful retreat—without compromising on the fun, of course. They lead us out of modern malaise into psychedelic fantasy before bringing us down in acceptance of a flawed world in which we may still gather close to our loved ones and find authentic solace in their arms.

And while glam rock guitar riffs and dramatic rhythms are at the heart of this record, the Plastic Cherries deliver a varied performance that assimilates a wide spectrum of other genres including art rock, new wave, jam band blues and shoegaze. There’s even a lyrical reference to Dolly Parton in “Moon II,” and pianist Natalie Hamilton’s intro to “Glitter On The Floor” sounds like something rescued from forgotten sheets in Rachmaninoff’s studio.

With all of this intrepid genre bending, the Plastic Cherries manage to straddle a narrow event horizon between wistful nostalgia and uncharted, kaleidoscopic horizons. Meanwhile, their starry-eyed lyricism delivers an acute commentary on the present day, then sets a direct course for hope. –Joe Roberts

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